This week I came across the work of Drew Westen professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory University. His book The Political Brain looks at the role of emotion in determining the USA’s political life, essentially making the point that people make political decisions (for example about who to vote for) based on emotion rather than reason and rationality. I didn’t find this surprising but it’s interesting work nonetheless. Other studies seem to suggest that effectiveness of emotion varies by political orientation for example if you are a Republican politician apparently it helps a bit to make the audience laugh.
Speeching is a project to find different ways to understand political speeches, not just with our eyes, ears and brains, but by using all of our bodies.
Speeching comes from a wider interest of mine in understanding democratic politics from the perspective of the body – what actually happens physically when we vote, when we demonstrate or when we sign a petition? Perhaps by understanding – or even changing – democratic politics at this level we can find new ways of doing things before we can think of them rationally.